Daniel Rabinkin receives a 2015 Senior Design Mentoring Award at Tufts University

The annual recognition is bestowed by seniors in the Department of
Electrical and Computer Engineering

On 8 May, at the Senior Dinner celebrating the Tufts University Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Class of 2015, Dr. Daniel Rabinkin, a member of the technical staff in the Embedded and Open Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, was presented with the 2015 Senior Design Mentoring Award. Rabinkin was recognized by the senior ECE bachelor's degree students for his guidance to a team that worked on a project to develop a system that could be mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to collect synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data.

At the Tufts University Senior Dinner for the 2015 bachelor’s degree candidates from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Daniel Rabinkin, center, received the Senior Design Mentoring Award for his work with the students who completed a capstone project on synthetic aperture radar. With him are leaders from the group and division in which he works: Paul Monticciolo, left, leader of the Embedded and Open Systems Group and Robert Bond, associate head of the ISR and Tactical Systems Division.

At the Tufts University Senior Dinner for the 2015 bachelor's degree candidates from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Daniel Rabinkin, center, received the Senior Design Mentoring Award for his work with the students who completed a capstone project on synthetic aperture radar. With him are leaders from the group and division in which he works: Paul Monticciolo, left, leader of the Embedded and Open Systems Group and Robert Bond, associate head of the ISR and Tactical Systems Division.
 

Each year, teams of ECE seniors conceive and execute collaborative capstone projects for a required two-semester design course. At year's end, the graduating class of ECE students chooses to honor one or more of the industry mentors who have provided support to the various project teams. "The 25 students from the nine project teams unanimously agreed that Dan was the sole awardee this year," says Prof. Ronald Lasser, the instructor for the senior design course. "Dan was a superlative mentor. He was always there for the students. From September to May, he met with his group weekly to review the status of the project, and he was available for one-on-one help with specific problems. He even arranged for the students to calibrate their system in Lincoln Laboratory’s anechoic chamber."

Rabinkin's work with the Tufts students began before the start of the 2014–2015 academic term. During summer 2014, he mentored two of four interns from Tufts (two from the ECE department and two from the Department of Mechanical Engineering) who worked at the Laboratory to initiate development of a UAV prototype as part of a capstone project proposed by Rabinkin; Lasser; Prof. Eric Miller, chair of the ECE department; and Dr. Robert Shin, head of the Laboratory's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Tactical Systems Division. The interns integrated a UAV, a differential GPS system, an onboard processor, and a C-band radar transmitter to build the prototype system for the project.

At the beginning of the academic year, the two ECE students enlisted four more students from their design course as members of a team whose capstone project would be to continue the refinement of the prototype and to develop algorithms for processing the radar data into SAR images. In early April, the team conducted test flights of the UAV in a parking lot at Tufts; in May, they took the system to the university's intramural fields for a data collection. "In a one-minute flight, the system made 1500 scans that were then processed into two-dimensional SAR images," Lasser cites as proof of the project's success.

The Tufts University students whose capstone project was the development of a UAV-mounted sensor for collecting and processing SAR images prepare to flight-test the prototype system.

The Tufts University students whose capstone project was the development of a UAV-mounted sensor for collecting and processing SAR images prepare to flight-test the prototype system.
 

According to Dr. Paul Monticciolo, leader of the Embedded and Open Systems Group and a longtime colleague of Rabinkin, "Dan is the perfect mentor for this project. He has a theoretical background in signal processing, knowledge of real-time implementation of processing techniques, field experience, and expertise in data analysis. And, he is incredibly patient."

As a member of the technical staff at Lincoln Laboratory since 1998, Rabinkin has been involved in developing high-throughput signal processing architectures and has led the development of a mobile radar test bed and a real-time image processor. Prior to joining the Laboratory, he was at Bell Labs working on acoustically robust speech recognition systems and databases. He holds bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Rutgers University, where he did graduate work on acoustic signal processing and sound source localization using microphone arrays.

"It’s been very gratifying working with a group of young engineers. They are enthusiastic, genuinely curious, and eager to learn. Watching this real-time prototype come together was a lot of fun," says Rabinkin, who is ready to continue helping two new summer interns and next year's class move into a phase two of the SAR project, which will concentrate on improving the navigation data, image autofocus, aperture control, and image-generation algorithms.

Posted May 2015

 

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